Independent Living: Grab rails buying guide

Bathroom grab rails (also known as grab bars, safety bars and support rails) can provide you with added stability and reassurance around the bathroom. In this comprehensive buying guide, we’ll explore your options and help you choose the right grab bar for your needs.

An excellent option for those of us who are looking to future-proof our bathrooms, grab rails can help you with mobility issues, like getting in and out of the bath or climbing into your shower.

Depending on your own specific needs, grab bars can form part of a wider Independent Living bathroom, allowing you the freedom to use your bathroom without external assistance, whilst still enjoying a stylish space.

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What are grab rails?

Grab rails (often known as support rails or safety rails) come in all shapes, sizes and designs but effectively should fit to a wall, allowing you to grip, whilst supporting your weight. They serve a number of purposes:

  • Making it easier to get in and out of the bath
  • Helping you to climb in and out of your shower enclosure
  • Helping you to move on and off the toilet
  • Keeping you stable when moving around your bathroom

What type of grab rails are available?

Straight grab rails are the most common type of grab bar available. Usually with 2 brackets that fit to your wall, straight grab bars can be installed vertically or horizontally, depending on the type of grip you require. They are especially handy when used as shower grab rails.

AKW Velena static straight grab rail 250mm

The AKW Velena static straight grab rail is just 250mm in length and is designed to support a weight load of up to 100kg (15.7 stone)

Angled grab rails are designed to provide comfort and a couple of different grip options, which is ideal if you are moving from a standing to sitting position, and visa versa. They are especially useful when used as bath grab rails.

Angled grab rail

An angled support bar offers flexibility, for example, when climbing in and out of the bath

Folding grab rails offer more flexibility, especially for wheelchair users and those who share bathrooms with family members. They are especially useful around toilets as they allow wheelchair users to move from the seat to the toilet, before putting the bar in place for added stability and help with movement.

AKW Folding support grab rail white

The AKW Folding support grab rail in white folds up neatly to help maximise space in your bathroom

You may require just one of these options, or even a combination of all 3, depending on your needs.


What styles of grab rail are there?

The great thing about modern grab rails is that you don’t have to simply select an option that looks like it has come straight from a hospital.

Whilst there are more functional options, like those made from white coated PVC, you’ll also discover a range of stainless steel options, which look sleek and stylish, and even black options which work well with monochrome bathrooms.

Ideal Standard 800mm hinged support rail

The Ideal Standard 800mm hinged support rail proves that you don't have to compromise on style when creating an accessible bathroom

For added grip, you could choose a fluted design or even models with soft rubber grips built into them. Some folding safety rails also feature a support leg for added stability, whilst you’ll even find designs that can incorporate other features, like soap dishes or accessories.

Bathroom grab rails also come in a range of different sizes to suit your needs.


What should I look out for in a grab rail?

  • Strength—always check how much weight your grab rail will withstand
  • Grip—will it offer the right amount of grip, even with wet hands?
  • Comfort—think about exactly where you will need a grab rail (e.g. will you need a shower grab rail?) and what the most comfortable option would be

What else do I need to consider when buying a grab rail?

Does your wall support a bath or shower grab rail? Brick or masonry walls will usually support the maximum load that the bar can withstand. However, a stud or partition wall isn’t usually suitable. Always consult an experienced builder before fitting a grab rail.

Another major consideration is the height at which you position your grab rail. You need to ensure it can be used comfortably by all potential users.

A further thing to think about is the design of your bath (if you have one). If you find it difficult to get in and out, it might be worth considering replacing with a bath that has built-in handles or an easy access shower bath with a door in the side. You could even consider an inflatable bath lift if you don’t want to go to the expense of changing your bath.

Kineduo right handed complete easy access shower bath with screen and white panel 1700 x 750

The Kineduo easy access shower bath means no need to climb in or out

Many people opt to replace their bath with a shower enclosure. This can be easily done with a shower enclosure that matches the exact footprint of the bath.


Shop grab rails

Now you have all the know-how you need, it’s time to pick the right grab rail for you. Check out our comprehensive selection of bathroom grab rails, from leading brands such as AKW, Croydex and Ideal Standard, by clicking on the banner below.

Shop bathroom grab rails


Find out more about Independent Living

If you want to find out more about accessible bathrooms, why not check out our Independent Living page? As well as hundreds of products which allow you to adapt your bathroom for mobility issues or disabilities, we’ve also got loads of fresh ideas to show you how to create a stylish yet functional space.

Find out more about Independent Living bathrooms